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Barely Scratching the Surface: A Study of Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices in Teacher Preparation Programs

Soljane Martinez, Johnson & Wales University


America is expected to reflect a majority-minority population by 2044 but the teaching workforce does not reflect the changing racial makeup of America’s children (Fay, 2018). It is critical for teacher preparation programs (TPPs) to promote curricula that prepares educators to work with the increasing diversity in their classrooms (Chartock, 2010). Culture is central to learning. Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning (Ladson-Billings,1994). Helping teachers develop and strengthen their skills can foster learning experiences relevant to and effective for today’s learners (Muñiz, 2019). Preparing teachers who are responsive to the racially diverse student population which schools have historically left behind is imperative (Villegas, 2007). Thus, the purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to assess the ways in which TPPs embed CRT pedagogy into their program outcomes. There was one overarching research question, supported by three subquestions which reflect each data source. The overarching research question guiding this study was: RQ1: In what ways do TPPs embed CRT outcomes in their curricula? This four-phase study included: Phase I document analysis of TPP outcomes; Phase II consisted of a CRT expert interview; Phase III consisted of teacher interviews; Phase IV administered reflective questionnaires. The researcher developed five instruments for data collection; findings from each phase informed subsequent phases. An expert’s view of CRT helped frame teachers’ descriptions of how they apply CRT in their classrooms. Three themes emerged from analysis: a lack of cultural awareness in teaching, insufficient support to empower educators, and the need for meaningful teaching strategies in teacher preparation programs. These findings suggest that TPPs are not effectively preparing teachers to be culturally responsive practitioners. Extant literature implies that preparing teachers to be culturally responsive requires a collaborative approach among states, TPPs, and school districts, which would require state and federal legislation to leverage new program support.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Education philosophy|Multicultural Education

Recommended Citation

Martinez, Soljane, "Barely Scratching the Surface: A Study of Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices in Teacher Preparation Programs" (2020). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI27958113.